Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  Share an excerpt fewer than 500 words from your family friendly book in the comments below.  Be sure to include the title and one buy link.  Then go spread the word about this post so even more people will find it.

Happy reading (and writing)!!

Here's an excerpt from Jackal

Grace's ebony curls bounced as she shook her head. "Don't let my husband fool you. I am quite capable of behaving in the manner typical of a lady whenever I wish. It just so happens that I have abominable luck when it comes to soup. Neither is it limited to what's in my spoon. I've dumped entire tureens on people before."

"Which is precisely why the footmen are ordered to remove all soup and soup-related dishes and utensils from the dining room posthaste whenever their use is complete. Sometimes even before."

Thomas winked at his wife, and his love for her shown on his face.

"Uh, did your father travel often?ʺ Juliana appeared nonplussed by Grace's behavior and the banter she shared with her husband.

Out of the corner of his eye, Rupert watched Mrs. Burnham tuck a napkin into her bodice as well. She noticed him staring and scowled. Then she lifted her fork with a white-knuckled grip and made a downward stabling motion with it before calmly returning it to its place and picking up her spoon. Rupert glanced around the table. No one else seemed to have noticed Mrs. Burnham's threatening behavior. Pulling his attention away from the frightful woman proved a challenge, but he eventually managed to return his focus to the conversation circulating amongst the diners.

Go Back

Excerpt from Prophecy Awakened
Noah glances over his shoulder. “We need to talk.”
He heads to Grandpa Douglas, the silent witness to so many of our moments. I follow those broad, black shoulders, thinking of how they felt beneath my hands during the piggy back. How I felt.
Beneath the spreading branches, he turns to me. His eyes are soft, caressing my face. I take a deep breath, spiced sandalwood giving me the courage I need.
“I wanted to thank you.”
“I—” His mouth clamps shut. “Thank me?”
“I wanted you to know I have no regrets.”
He opens his mouth.
“No, Noah. I need to say this before…” I wave my hand toward his suit. “I want you to know.” My voice drops. “Every moment with you was worth everything we’re going through now.”
Noah is shaking his head. His hands come up, then drop again. “Eden, I’m not choosing a life without you in it. Which is why this,” his hand does its own arc, “isn’t happening.”
Shock reduces me to a whisper. “Not happening?”
“I’m not doing it. To Mitch. To Tara.” He takes a step closer. “To us.”
“But—” And I can’t go any further. What is he saying? What does this mean?
“I told Kurt a little while ago. The bonding will go ahead, but I won’t be in it.”
My eyes widen. He wouldn’t have taken that well.
“Yeah. I don’t think I’m on his Christmas card list. ” “That means…you’re…we could be…”
My hand comes up, hovering between us. “Together?”
Noah’s echo flows out on a breath. “Together.”
My hand rests on his chest, finally connecting. It reflexively curls over his mark, anchoring me. Because I’m drowning in blue oceans of promise. Heated promise.
Ever so slowly Noah leans in, head tilting down. His beautiful face fills my vision. My senses. My heart is climbing up on each hopeful beat, like it’s trying to reach out, trying to draw him closer. And like all the other times, he stops. Our breaths mingle on a question. A wish.
A prayer.

Excerpt from "Incomplete" by Kadee Carder. (Book 2 of the Insurrection trilogy)

Crashing into the distance, tossing trees and brush aside, the vehicle rumbled off, carrying our fallen comrade and safety net of steel-woven-rubber-fiberglass walls. All that remained were fifteen heartbeats and a bunch of tech. We ruled the restless night.

“Glad to have you back, Mack,” Logan cajoled, thumping me on the shoulder.

“Well, I guess I’ll take it. Thanks for getting me back out here.”

“Don’t know what you mean.” He hummed, kicking a clump of grass.

“I think you asked to have me out here. And for that, I’m grateful.”

“Not a possible clue what you are talking about.” A smirk wiped across his chin from under the lowered HUD.

“Put me in, coach.”

Three men jumped down into the gaping square of earth, that same tunnel entrance I’d found those few nights before. Soft white lights illuminated a concrete bunker hallway beneath us.

“Batter up,” Logan said, gesturing in front of us.

One more NEXIS suit crouched and dropped down.

“I’m glad I don’t have a fear of falling into holes,” I said. The sarcasm burst into the night with long, wide wings, and dove headfirst into the hole. Good stuff, I nodded at it.

“There’s always time to start. Just not today.”

“Right.” Turning toward the hole with a deep breath and a steady pulse — or, at least my poise hinted my insides weren’t melting into mushy goo — I grabbed the lip of the cavernous square and tossed my feet beneath me, searching for a more solid floor than the last time I dove through a tunnel wall. This time, my boots met hard limits, and my senses dissolved in a blinding, squawking squeal.


Read more of Saylor's thriling adventure at

Available for only $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Scribd!

Season of Hope (The Seasons Book One) by Sara Jane Jacobs
A coming-of-age inspirational romance available at

“What do you want to do after lunch?” Amanda took a bite of her grilled cheese sandwich.

Tyler paused to consider their options. “Hm. I dunno. What do you want to do? Want me to see if I can find that snake again?”

She frowned. “Not really. Can we play ball instead? Or maybe—”

“Shh!” Tyler sat still, listening to the voices coming from the living room.

“What are you doing here?” His mother’s voice trembled.

“What? I can’t drop in to see my family after three years?” It had been a long time, but Tyler remembered that sarcastic tone.

He leaned over to look his friend in the eyes and whispered, “Amanda you have to go!”

She stopped chewing, wondering if she had heard him correctly. “Why? I’m still eating. And I thought we were going to play after lunch?”

Tyler stood, grabbing her arm and pulling her over to the back door. “Shh. You have to go. Now!” Ushering her outside onto the back porch, he gave her a gentle push toward the steps. “Run to your house, Amanda. Go as fast as you can.”

The sound of a scuffle echoed from the front of the house, followed by the breaking of glass. Amanda froze, almost forgetting to breathe.

Tyler glanced over his shoulder and then back at her. “Go!”

The fear in his eyes made her run, the urgency in his voice echoing in her ears as she raced up the path. Tears spilled down her cheeks as terror rushed through her tiny body. She had only made it about twenty yards up the hill when she heard Tyler’s mother scream, “Leave him alone!” before the sound of a gunshot pierced the air.
Matt Armstrong was no longer moving in Tyler’s direction. He spun around to face Jessica. “Don’t make me put the next one in you, Matt,” Jessica tried to keep her hands steady. She pointed the gun toward the floor after sending the first shot into the ceiling.

Matt glanced over his shoulder, then back at Jessica. “There’s no way you’re going to point that gun at me with the boy behind me, Jess. Why don’t you just put it down so we can talk?”

He was right. There was no way she would point it in Tyler’s direction, although only one bullet had been loaded in the gun. Handling a firearm was new territory for her, but she knew enough never to point one at someone, even if you thought for sure it was unloaded. That is unless it was someone you felt deserved a bullet. Although she hated violence, at the moment her abusive husband fit that description. She’d do whatever was necessary to protect her son. Her gaze shifted past Matt. “Tyler, where’s Amanda?”

The boy stood in the doorway of the kitchen watching his father. “I made her go home.”

"Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals" Softcover 57%-off today

They walked along the path to the left. Elle heard sounds of merriment a short distance ahead. They rounded a lilac bush full of lavender blossoms nearly as tall as she was.

Elle paused at the astonishing sight in front of her. From the petals of an extremely large sunflower hung long strands of what looked like spider webbing forming a May Day swing. A Fiorin was perched on each swing seat. The sunflower spun around as the Fiorins swung far out from the center of the flower. Wings flapped and feet swung in rhythm to the songs of the birds floating in the adjacent pond.

“Oh, look! Those are the trueros Grandma told me about.” Elle grinned as she watched the turquoise birds float along. Their song was softer than the wind, and their green eyes reflected in the water like floating emeralds.

“They’re the most exquisite creatures I have ever seen. Even Grandma couldn’t describe how wonderful they are.”

Elle jumped as something touched the back of her hand. She spun around and giggled when she saw the truero standing behind her. She reached out, and the truero waddled up, bent his head down, and placed his beak in the palm of her outstretched hand. With the other hand, she stroked the turquoise feathers above his beak.

“Oh, Nextra, they’re beautiful!”

“Yes, they are, Elle. They are one of the true wonders of life in this dimension.”

Elle looked back at the Fiorins enjoying their unique ride. It reminded her of the wave swinger ride at the state fair.

“Come, Elle, let’s have a tea party like we used to.”

Elle nodded, and they continued along the winding path.

Elle saw an enormous bird bath up ahead. The seashell top was as large as a swimming pool and was held up by three giant sea horses. Several Fiorins were cavorting in the water. They splashed, creating bubbles which rose from the surface of the water and popped as they touched the undersides of the petals on the nearest flowers. As Elle and Nextra neared, one of the sea horses blinked and whinnied.

“They’re alive! It’s unbelievable . . . I’ve never seen anything like this.”
At the next turn of the path, Nextra moved over to the side and stopped next to another spider web. Taking Elle’s hand, she directed her to place her feet in the center of the web.

The web started to lift slowly into the top of a magnolia tree that was bigger than any tree Elle had ever seen. Even the redwoods her Grandpa had shown her in California weren’t this big. She caught her breath and held it, afraid she might fall.

I LOVED reading Jackal!! I found it fascinating, especially the history that you included. I think Jackal was a fascinating character, and I also loved Juliana. Your descriptions were wonderful, and I couldn't put it down!

TRY ME, I AM JESUS: A Muslim's Journey with Christ
a memoir
by Syed Ibn Syed

It was nearly nine o'clock on the night of December 24, 1990. I was seventeen years old, sitting alone in a park, contemplating the recent turn of events. My mind was racing back and forth between incidents that could potentially have a very debilitating effect on my entire family. Wave after wave of emotions crashed through my soul. I was feeling angry, upset, sad, and lost. Yes, that was the word, lost. I had no one to turn to for help. The future seemed so bleak, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be slipping away into oblivion. Everything was so confusing; a host of questions bombarded my mind. Why were these things happening the way they were? Ours was a very good, God-fearing family. Then why these problems? Was Allah not pleased with me? Had I failed in any of my duties toward Allah? I had tried to keep my eyes and thoughts focused on the Almighty and had striven to fulfill the requirements of Islam to the best of my knowledge. Then why had this storm brewed in my family? I cried out toward Allah, the Almighty, Most Beneficent, and Merciful, yet the heavens seemed strangely distant. As I sat deep in thought, one question superseded all others. What use is this life after all that has happened?

WITCH'S MARK (a young adult novel)
by Sarah Norkus

Dread squeezed Emily Grace’s heart in a vise as the word “witch” reverberated around the meeting house. Her worst nightmare had just materialized in the form of a teenage girl screeching and pulling at her puritan clothing as she accused Em of witchcraft. Em shook her head, her denial drowned out as more voices chanted “witch.” Her terrified gaze locked on Samantha, frozen in place next to the dais, one purple lock of hair accentuating her too pale face.

The sound of the mallet striking the table on the dais and the magistrate shouting for order, added to the chaos of the three teenage girl’s screams and the loud shouts of “witch” by the frenzied villagers. Em’s heart started to pound like a trip hammer and she nearly jumped out of her skin as a commanding voice shouted.


The room became as quiet as a tomb. A chill crawled up Em’s spine as the magistrate’s cold gaze fell on first her and then Sam. “It is our degree that these girls shall be removed to Ingersoll’s Ordinary and examined for the mark of the witch.”


In Witch’s Mark, Em, Megan, and Sam journey back in time to the Salem Witch trials, where one girl is accused of theft, two are accused as witches and heart break ensues as two girls return to their time and one is left behind.

Landry in Like (Landry's True Colors Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Clean teen fiction for ages 10 and up.

I wanted to call my friends and tell them about being on the talk show, but Mom said we had to be at the TV station super early — even before school started. She said I could text them, but I had to turn off my phone and go to bed.

“I’m waking you up at four a.m.,” she said. “You have to be there at five-thirty.”

“Can I just call Peyton and Ashanti? Please?”

“Fine, but you have five minutes and then that phone is mine and you’re in bed.”

I dialed Peyton, but her mom said she was in the shower. I told her mom about the show tomorrow and said my mom wouldn’t let me stay up any later to call Peyton back.

“How exciting! I will make sure Peyton knows, and I will be watching you tomorrow. Good luck, honey,” Mrs. Urich said.

I called Ashanti next and told her.

“Get out. Get. Out. No way. This is so exciting!”

“I’m so nervous. My stomach is already doing cartwheels. I can’t do one, but my stomach can. Seems unfair. What if I throw up before I go on? I did that right before I went on at the statewide Ingénue modeling competition in Detroit, and my mom had to give me a cough drop to cover up the smell.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but… just in case, take a cough drop with you,” Ashanti said. “Good luck. You’ll be great and I’ll go set the DVR now.”

I hung up and sent a text to Vladi, India, Devon, Thalia, Tori, and Ericka, so no one would be mad and feel left out. Then I shut off my phone. Mom poked her head in the door to make sure I was in bed.

“Night, hon. Try to get some rest,” she said.

Easier said than done. I stared at my ceiling while thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong tomorrow. Seeing as the show was on in the morning, I never got to watch it, so I had no idea what the set was like — did it have super high chairs and I’d struggle to get into them? And what if it had those higher stools that were kind of tippy and my rear overshot the seat and I fell off? Or what if the prep questions got lost and the interviewer asked me random things like my feelings on nuclear war or asked me about some foreign political leader who I had never heard of before, and I appeared stupid? Why did I say I’d do this? I tried to get comfortable and it felt like I had just dozed off when I felt my mom shaking my shoulder.

“Rise and shine, TV star,” she said.

'As the engagement ended, Natalie and Carmella walked through
some tables where there were Dorothy CDs were being sold, along
with cool shirts labeled with encouraging Bible verses for women.

“Hey,” Carmella said, “I am going to go look at that stuff to see
what I can buy.”

“Okay,” Natalie responded as she pulled her Bible from her
purse. “Take your time. I’m just gonna sit here on these stairs and
read my Bible for a bit until we leave.”

“Would you like something from the table?” Carmella asked.

“No, thank you, Carmella,” Natalie responded.

“Okay, don’t go anywhere,” Carmella said jokingly.

Natalie could only giggle. What must Carmella think of her?
There was something different about Carmella’s demeanor, though.
It was almost like she was trying too hard to remain upbeat. Natalie
knew what was on Carmella’s mind.

“Hey,” Natalie said with enough voice so Carmella could hear

“Yeah,” Carmella responded, turning back around to see Natalie.
“Thank you…for this. Thank you…for…all of this.”

“You are welcome, girl,” Carmella said with a smile as she walked
back over to Natalie and gave her a hug.

“You are most certainly welcome. Just please don’t forget that I am your BFF! You won’t forget that, will you?”

After a hug that seemed as long as eternity, Carmella darted
for the tables. Natalie watched as Carmella moved through the line
of ladies looking to buy Dorothy’s CDs and memorabilia. Natalie
looked around and, for a brief moment, closed her eyes.

“Thank you, Lord,” she prayed, just low enough to be a silent

“And how are you?”

Natalie looked up to see an incredible, unbelievable sight. There
was Dorothy, standing right in front of her.

“Uh,” Natalie responded as she struggled to come to her feet.

“Oh, sit down, child. I didn’t mean to bother ya,” Dorothy said
in her most beautiful Southern belle voice. “I’m Dorothy.” Dorothy
said this as to make a comical scene of the situation, trying to make
Natalie smile.

It worked. Natalie laughed as she responded, “Yes, ma’am,
you are. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Natalie J—uh.”
She was caught. She almost gave her married name and stumbled to recover from that.

“Natalie…what?” Dorothy said with a big smile on her face.
“Girl, I knew you looked frazzled, but I have to admit. I have never
met anyone who didn’t know their last name.”

Natalie laughed again. “It’s Barnes. Natalie Barnes. It is nice to
meet you, Miss Dorothy,” Natalie responded as she shook Dorothy’s

“And it is nice to meet you,” Dorothy responded. The light in
her demeanor made Natalie feel warm and comforted.

“So, child,what is going on with you tonight?”

“Well,” Natalie responded, “obviously I am here with you.”

They both laughed.

“Oh, aren’t you funny, child,” Dorothy responded comically.
“You are funny. But what I mean is what is going on with you

For some reason, Natalie began feeling somewhat conflicted
inside. Dorothy had Natalie’s attention as Dorothy sat down just a
few stairs below Natalie.

“Well, ma’am, I am not…sure,” Natalie responded.

Dorothy could see the emotional wall. Natalie was not that difficult
to read.

“Child,” Dorothy continued, “every time I do one of these
events I always pray that God will show me someone who needs
encouragement. For some reason, tonight, I kept noticing you. I
noticed you when you raised your hand and when you brought it
down. I also noticed your sense of hesitation when raising your hand
when I asked certain questions.”

Now she really had Natalie’s attention.

“Questions like, ‘Do you love your husband?’”

Natalie felt, in some weird way, like she was being cornered. She
didn’t know what to say. Her heart started racing, but she didn’t know
why. She cherished the opportunity to get to talk with Dorothy but
was so afraid of what that Dorothy could never understand her situation.
Honestly, as Natalie had asked herself before, how could she?

“Honestly, ma’am,” Natalie said, “I’m not sure you would
understand. I’m not sure I understand what is going on in my life
right now.”

“Let me guess,” Dorothy responded. “You woke up one morning
and realized that things are way out of control. You feel like you
are living a completely different life than you want to, and you feel
like you don’t even know who you are any more. You have no idea
how you got here. Nothing makes sense. What was…is no more.
And what shouldn’t be…is. Is that about right?”

Um, okay, Natalie thought. Was this lady reading her mind?'

From my upcoming Love Inspired Romance REUNITING HIS FAMILY.

Rhys Maddox looked across the small room at his broken dream. The dream he’d shattered. His boys stood in the doorway with a woman who wasn’t their mother. Owen a miniature copy of himself. Dylan with so many of his mother’s features, it made his heart bleed.

“Mr. Maddox?”

He looked back at Renee Delacroix, the Essex County Child Protective Services worker he’d been sitting with.

“This is Suzanne Hill, Owen and Dylan’s foster mother,” she said.

Rhys strangled the shudder that began when the word foster formed on Ms. Delacroix’s lips. Those memories were behind him and would be behind his boys soon, too. He stood, walked to the woman and offered his hand, glad for the opportunity to break away from Ms. Delacroix’s eye-to-eye scrutiny and the knowledge that she stood between him and his sons.

“Mrs. Hill,” he said, warmed by her wholesome freshness in contrast to Ms. Delacroix’s glacial beauty. “It’s good to meet you in person.”

“Suzi, please,” she said, smiling.

“Suzi, then.”

Today’s half hour with the Child Services worker was his second meeting with Ms. Delacroix since he’d come to Paradox Lake to claim his sons. Yet they were still Mr. Maddox and Ms. Delacroix.

He released Suzi’s hand. “May I,” he asked glancing from Dylan to Owen, uncertain himself what he was asking for.

Suzi looked over his shoulder toward the table where he’d been sitting.
Ms. Delacroix must have given the okay.

He ruffled nine-year-old Owen’s hair. “How’s it going, buddy.”

They’d both grown since he’d seen them this spring at their mother Gwen’s funeral. His gut filled with lead. He’d missed so much the past five years.
Owen threw his arms around Rhys, almost knocking him over as much from the emotion as from the propulsion.

“Daddy, I’m so glad you’re home. You’re not going to have to go back again like you did after Mommy’s . . .” Owen muffled the rest of his words against Rhys’ chest.

He rested his head on his older son’s. “No.” Never. No way was he going to let anything get between him and his responsibility to his family again. He set Owen back and looked into his face. “I’m so proud of you, helping your mom and taking care of Dylan for me. Mrs. Hill sent me your soccer game pictures and one of your winning Pinewood Derby car, and I kept all of the Bible verses that you and Dylan memorized in Sunday school and wrote out for me.”

“Coach Josh helped me with the car. I painted it like your old Charger. This year, you and me can make one and win first prize, instead of second.”

Rhys’ throat clogged. “Sure thing.” He lifted his hands from Owen’s shoulders and squatted in front of his younger son. “How about you, Dylan? Want to go get some ice cream with Daddy?”

“No,” the six-and-a-half-year-old shook his head emphatically. “You’re a bad man. My friend Tyler said so. His mommy told him.”